Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Presidential Slow TV

While waiting for the American Dream* / American Nightmare* to begin* / end* (*delete according to your preferences), if you can't get enough of American politics in the run up to the 2016 Election, Norway has given us another Slow TV offering themed upon the US Presidency.

Norwegian broadcaster NRK once again called upon the services of  Professor Frank Aarebrot guiding us on another time-travelling Slow TV lecture (with a previous lecture on Norwegian history in 2014 with 200 years in 200 minutes).

"USA-valget: 227 år på 227 minutter - 227 Years in 227 Minutes"

The show's blurb reads, "The Student Society in Bergen and the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation invites us to a new live lecture tonight. While Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump fight the last lap in the race to become the world's most powerful person, Professor Frank Aarebrot will be on stage with a lecture on the American presidential history. From George Washington in 1789 to today. 43 presidents in 227 years, told in 227 minutes."

The show starts with Professor Frank (search #NRKFrank ) having a customary smoke outside the lecture theatre and then giving his talk through the subject with graphics and humour. No death-by-powerpoint, the audience in the theatre and online seem to hold Professor Frank with in good esteem and affection. Being put against the clock adds a little tension of will-he-won't-he pull off the comprehensive review in the time allocated.

A photo posted by Thomas Hellum (@thomashellum) on

This broadcast reminds us that Slow TV can be chameleon-like and not just consist of creative activities or sweeping majestic landscapes. A much more manufactured-for-TV feeling going on here but nevertheless engaging for it. "Slow TV is more than one thing" remarked the controller of NRK2, Fredrik Faerden, when I interviewed him for my documentary about Slow TV in 2014.

When it comes to the Election count, we can also think of that as a form of Slow TV. It unfolds in real time, with perhaps the greatest dramas of all as key results come in. This has been evidenced very much in the UK in the past couple years with a surprising General Election result and the Brexit Referendum. Though instead of the broadcaster making a show for TV, they are broadcasting an important event which happens externally of any commissioner's decision.

Professor Frank is now in the USA to help with NRK's coverage of the Election.

The recording of the broadcast can be seen HERE in Norwegian.

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